The Plateau Kids Network’s annual toy drive is kicking off later this month as the group is expecting a bump in the number of families it hopes to serve this holiday season.
Run by Enumclaw firefighter Maryn Otto and carried on the backs of hard-working volunteers, the Plateau Kids Network runs several programs for local families, but the biggest by far is the Holiday Helping Hands program, which helps families struggling financially be able to celebrate the holidays.
The program starts with a toy drive from Nov. 24 and through Dec. 10; there will be drop-off locations all around town, but some of the biggest tend to be at the Enumclaw Fire Department, Fugate Ford, Grocery Outlet, and Works Sports & Outdoors.
Others include Living Court Assisted Living, Mail Express, the Thunder Dome Car Museum, Dusty Shelf Books, Cole Street Game Vault, Enumclaw Music, and Headworks Brewing.
Finally, the Enumclaw Fire Department’s annual Santa Run (Dec. 3 to 7) around local neighborhoods is a mobile toy collection site.
At this time, the PKN is looking for gifts for teens — which includes gift cards, bluetooth earbuds, name-brand hats and hoodies, sports and fitness equipment, and female makeup and body-care supplies — but also books for all ages, superhero toys, blocks, crafts, board games, stocking stuffers, and infant gifts.
The nonprofit notes that it does not need Hot Wheels cars or toy vehicles (including RC vehicles), dolls and barbies, or nerf guns. More information on gift ideas can be found at plateaukidsnetwork.com/holidayhelpinghands.
In addition to toys and gifts, the PKN also collects nonperishable food donations for the Plateau Outreach Ministries and the Enumclaw Food Bank.
Once all the gifts and food items are donated and collected, PKN volunteers organize the gifts and “shop” for parents registered with the nonprofit based on their wishlists; the goal is to give each child a gift, book, a game or craft, and two stocking stuffers.
To register, families must be “in need”, have children, and live in within the Enmclaw School District boundaries; families must also not be enrolled in any other gift assistance program.
Families can register at plateaukidsnetwork.com/holidayhelpinghands starting Nov. 17; those already enrolled in the school district’s free lunch program will automatically be mailed a letter inviting them to register with the PKN.
Gifts will be delivered on Dec. 17 at the Enumclaw Expo Center.
Otto said that last year, the PNK helped supply 400 kids with toys for the holidays, the equivalent of spending roughly $20,000.
“It was a shocking number… I had never put the money or the math to it,” she said, adding that this sort of support for local kids would be “unattainable” for the PKN without the community’s support.
And this year, Otto expects to serve even more kids, as the Helping Hands program is merging with the Plateau Community Church’s Celebration Day program; she expects at least a 25% bump in the number of children added to the PKN’s list.